2007-12-21 / Community

Four Rockaway Schools In City's Bonus Program

Chancellor Joel I. Klein and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten have announced that four Rockaway schools are among the more than 200 high-need schools that will participate in New York City's first-ever school-wide performance bonus program, Department of Education officials say.

Those four schools are Public School 42 in Arverne, Middle School 53, Public School 253 and Public School 197, all in Far Rockaway.

The four are among the approximately 240 schools serving some of the City's most challenging students that were invited to participate in the program. More than 80 percent of the schools that were invited elected to participate through a vote of school staff represented by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the principal's agreement. Educators at the participating schools, which are located throughout the City and serve students at every grade level, will receive monetary bonuses if their schools meet progress report goals based mainly on student achievement.

Atotal of $20 million in private funds will be raised to support the initiative in 2007-08. Chancellor Klein and UFT President Weingarten announced that The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, The Robertson Foundation, and The Partnership for New York City have already committed a total of $15 million in private funds to support the initiative.

"I am very pleased that the overwhelming majority of schools invited to participate in this groundbreaking program have opted to participate," Chancellor Klein said. "That so many schools want to participate demonstrates how important it is to provide tangible rewards for those performing the hard work of helping our neediest students succeed while also promoting collaboration among teachers, principals, and other school staff.

"I am gratified that The Broad Foundation, The Partnership for New York City, and The Robertson Foundation have agreed to generously support this critical initiative. Without their support, we would not be able to launch an initiative that I believe will benefit schools, staff, and, most of all, students."

"Teachers already work extraordinarily hard. What we hope the school-wide bonus program accomplishes is, first, to promote collaboration; second, to acknowledge the contribution every school staff member makes to students' success; and, third, to motivate principals to provide the support and conditions required for the success of all students," UFT President Weingarten said. "The program provides an opportunity to demonstrate what can be achieved when educators are encouraged to work together."

By December 21, each school that opted into the program must select a four-member "compensation committee" comprised of the school principal, a designee of the principal, and two staff members represented by the UFT who are elected by UFT members at each participating school. The compensation committee will decide, by consensus, how to distribute the funds among teachers and other UFT-represented employees at the school. Schools meeting progress report targets will receive a bonus pool equivalent to $3,000 per full-time UFT member at the school. Schools that meet at least 75 percent of progress report goals will receive a bonus pool equal to $1,500 per full-time UFT member. The compensation committee may decide to distribute the funds evenly to all UFT members, or it can differentiate bonuses by job title, or based on individual contributions. Schools will learn whether they have met their student achievement targets in Fall, 2008.

In November, roughly 15 percent of all New York City public schools were invited to participate in the pilot school-wide performance program. Schools were randomly selected from a pool of high-need schools with eligibility based on the same factors used in creating Progress Report peer groups: average proficiency ratings on fourth-grade State English Language Arts and Math exams for middle schools; eighth-grade exams for high schools; poverty rates, student demographic characteristics, percent of English Language Learners and Special Education students for elementary schools.

"Asystem of professional compensation is essential for high-performing school systems like New York City," said Eli Broad, entrepreneur and founder of The Broad Foundation. "This historic partnership between the Department of Education and the UFT underscores the significant progress New York City has made and its ongoing commitment to educate every student. Virtually every other industry compensates its highest performers, which serves as an incentive to improve individual and organization performance. In this case, improved student achievement is the most valuable accomplishment that must be rewarded."

"The city's business community has long advocated financial incentives to recognize and reward outstanding performance by professionals who work in the most challenging schools, so we are pleased to support this innovative approach to incentive pay," said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

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